Once upon a time, the wine glass took just a few traditional forms: the bulbous Burgundy glass; the no less voluminous, but more Apollonian, Bordeaux glass; a diminutive version of that Bordeaux glass deemed simply the “white wine glass”; and, of course, the Champagne flute. But over the past 20 years, wine’s glassware repertoire has grown to accommodate myriad styles of wine, from German riesling to sauvignon blanc, and further, a spectrum within that particularity. To be a serious wine drinker suggested that you would need not only multiple fridges at varying temps, but also at least one glassware cabinet just to accommodate your hobby—nevermind space for an impractically shaped decanter or two.
Today, glass specificity has collapsed, giving rise to the “universal” glass that functions across all styles. In a similar vein, the merits of the flute (spoiler: there are few) have been reconsidered alongside an overall loosening of glass dogma that has allowed for the embrace of the low-key tavern glass. Even with this culling of options, however, the internet is flush with them. Below is our attempt to condense this chaos into our favorite options in each category at varying price points, along with a bonus section for design-forward statement glasses.
If you’re going to keep only a single stemware option at home that can work across all wine styles, including sparkling, this is your glass.
Go-to: When choosing a go-to universal glass, there are a few key considerations: proportions that allow for easy storage, dishwasher safety and durability, and overall simplicity in design that is neither too broad at the base of the bowl nor too narrow at the top. For those who prefer a multiuse glass with a wider bowl, Bormioli’s InAlto glass in large (set of six, $60) is simple and exceptionally durable. For those looking for a tighter, more vertical shape, Schott Zwiesel’s Pure Cabernet glass (set of four, $58) is elegant without sacrificing utility.
Splurge: Mouth-blown one by one and so delicate, lip to stem, that even picking one up feels risky, the Zalto Denk’Art Universal Wine Glass ($59 per glass) is the ultimate flex. It’s a glass capable of elevating any wine, and while they are actually more durable than they look (and dishwasher-safe), at $59 a pop, you’ll want to commit to a handwash.
An increasingly popular style of glass in restaurants and wine bars, as well as at home, the tavern glass has become a symbol of the broader loosening of wine culture.
Go-to: The stackable tavern glass is its own cottage industry these days. Bormioli’s 11.75-ounce take (set of six, $39) is hard to beat in terms of both formidability (they are nearly unbreakable, and thus a great indoor/outdoor option) and value. Slightly less hefty and more delicate on the table, the Lempi Glass (set of four, $54) from Swedish designer Matti Klenell for Iittala is both stylish and utilitarian. And finally, if you’re looking for the classicism of the Riedel short-stemmed glass, but at a more manageable price point, the Schott Zwiesel Bistro White Wine Glass (set of six, $52) is unbeatable.
Splurge: An increasingly common sight in restaurants, the Riedel Vinum Water Glass (set of two, $65) has become a de facto universal wine glass for those who prefer a shorter stem. The glass offers all of the swirl potential and delicacy of a classic long-stemmed universal glass, but in a more casual package. If you’re looking for a tavern glass that’s capable of making a statement, Ferm Living’s Ripple Wine Glass (set of two, $55) or Broc Cellars’ Broc Glass ($55 each) are our favorites.
The tumbler (i.e., bistro or stemless glass) can take many forms beyond the standard look of a stemmed glass with its trunk lopped off.
Go-to: The ultimate in lack-of-pretense quotidian drinkware, the 8.75-ounce Duralex Picardie Tumbler (set of six, $17) is a classic. It may not be the most complimentary glass when it comes to aeration and aromatic enhancement, but it’s hard to argue that a weeknight wine doesn’t feel right at home in it. If you’re looking for a glass that fulfills more traditional aromatic duties, Schott Zwiesel does it again with their short Vervino Glass (set of six, $72), which breaks with the classic stemless Bordeaux shape without sacrificing function.
Splurge: At heart, the stemless tumbler is built to resist the splurge, but Jancis Robinson’s Perfect Wine Glass (set of two, $84) brings an unmatched refinement to the style. Made of mouth-blown crystal that is impossibly thin, this is the stemless answer to Zalto’s beloved Universal Glass.
Traditionally dominated by the GoVino glass and its plastic ilk, several new entrants into the category have elevated the go-anywhere wine glass.
Go-to: While plastic, and now stainless steel (see Yeti, Corkcicle), dominate outdoor-use wine glasses, a few new entrants have figured out how to market a durable glass. Of these, Vinglacé’s glass-lined tumbler ($35 each) offers all the chilling benefits of steel without the negative impact the material has on the wine. Likewise, W&P Design’s Porter Glass (set of two, $40) is a handsome glass-lined option with a silicone sleeve for protection.
Following a protracted period of absolutely losing its mind, the decanter is experiencing a utilitarian return to form.
Go-to: For everyday use and practical storage, Zalto’s Carafe No. 75 ($76) is tough to beat. As winemaker Dan Petroski notes, one of the carafe’s big selling points is not just its delicacy and simplicity, but the fact that it occupies the same footprint on the table as a bottle of wine. And while Riedel was one of the principal architects of the decanter’s baroque period, the stalwart’s simple Cabernet Decanter ($49) is understated and compact and, despite its name, suitable for any style of wine. Finally, if you want to strip it way back, Bormioli’s Misura PZ Wine Carafe ($15) is durable, classic and everyday in the very best way.
Splurge: For our buck, there are few decanters on the market that have the kind of homespun elegance of the Broc Decanter ($150), developed by Chris Brockway and Bridget Leary of Broc Cellars, in collaboration with designer Rafi Ajl of The Long Confidence. While it takes inspiration from Leary and Brockway’s favorite vintage decanter, its design sensibility speaks perfectly to wine’s contemporary cultural values.
Sometimes the glass you choose to pour wine into is less about everyday function and more about aesthetics. Designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen’s Bilboquet Wine Glasses (set of two, $100), available in two sets of Memphis-reminiscent colorways, are objets in their own right. The same is true of Augustina Bottoni’s Calici Milanesi wine glasses ($85 each), which are designed to evoke the modern architectural gems of Milan.
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